Thursday, February 28, 2008

10 Questions

What a treat we have in store for YOU today! Our guest, taking the "10 Questions" challenge is an entire group: the Grip Weeds!!! They decided to divide the questions among themselves and we're all the richer for their sharing what gets their own wheels turning when it comes to psychedelic music.
Here's Stanton Swihart's take on the Grip Weeds and their 1994 debut album, The House of Vibes:
"...Put simply, a Grip Weeds song is so distinctive and unique that it obliterates most pop pretenders, retro-mongers, and fetishists, showing them for what they are: copyists working according to genre rather than inspiration.The Grip Weeds progress from various musical precedents just as Sixties pop acts were progressing from the wellspring of early rock & roll (though the divergences were much more pronounced then because there were far fewer sources). And like those Sixties band, the Grip Weeds do not wear their influences on their sleeve, they have absorbed them, and have used them to create melodies so good that they seem to have always existed...

Kurt Reil, Rick Reil, Kristin Pinell, and Michael Kelly


1. In ten words-or less, define "psychedelic music."
The music of an alternate level of reality or consciousness.

2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?
The mellotron, because in trying to emulate or synthesize strings, another sound came into being- not a violin, but something more haunting and otherworldly, and very psychedelic...


(Kurt: Why Rick is the coolest...)

3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time?

I can't give only one. I would have to say that Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the "best" one, especially if you include "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields" which were originally intended for that album. A bit obvious perhaps but creativity was running at an all time high on that record. John Hawken (Keyboard player for the Nashville Teens and The Strawbs) told me recently that the release of Sgt Pepper completely pulled the rug out from under every musician in England. "Strawberry Fields" and "A Day In The Life" are two of the most groundbreaking tracks ever recorded as well as being very heavy in an emotional sense.

I would have to mention several others as among my favorites:

1. Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience) - Hendrix is often cited as one of the best or the best rock guitarist, but he is without a doubt the greatest psychedelic guitarist, and one hell of a great psychedelic songwriter also.

2. Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (Pink Floyd) - Syd Barret was one of the most evocative and original of psychedelic songwriters ever on this, his only (full) album with the Floyd. And dig the wonderfully jagged Abbey Road production.

3. The Doors (1st album) - They may not be generally thought of as a psychedelic band, but the Doors themselves considered their music to be just that. All ex-meditation students (except for Morrison), they journeyed fearlessly where no band had gone before (or since); The Oedipal section of The End was written spontaneously at The Whisky in 1966 by a tripping Morrison who explored the Jungian depths of his unconscious right in front of an unsuspecting audience.

4. The Notorious Byrd Brothers (The Byrds) - a real treat for anybody who has not heard this masterpiece, particularly the expanded CD version which includes the breathtaking "Triad" by David Crosby and "Moog Raga", which attempts to recreate an eastern raga on the then cutting edge Moog synthesizer. The two prior Byrds records, Fifth Dimension and Younger Than Yesterday are also superbly psychedelic.

5. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, Ltd. (The Monkees) - Believe it or not, the Monkees made one of the greatest psychedelic albums of 1967. The band members were very stoned for most of that year, and the record contains some great songs including one of the earliest ever uses of the Moog synthesizer, incredibly played by Micky Dolenz on Mike Nesmith's "Daily Nightly".

4. Who is your favorite member of the Byrds (any era) and why?

I would have to say David Crosby. Although Roger McGuinn is generally ackowledged as the "leader", and Gene Clark the best songwriter, Crosby is perhaps the greatest high harmony singer ever in rock music. He was also the most cutting edge and outspoken member of the band, constantly pushing them into bold and interesting new directions musically, politically and culturally. During his tenure with the Byrds (and later with CSNY) he was always stoned (on pot at first), which seemed to be good for him until he got into harder things like free-basing (which nearly killed him). He's a truly original person and his first solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name, is an often-overlooked gem.


5. If you could be a member of any band in history (other than your own), what band would it be and what would you play?
The Moody Blues. I could play guitar, flute, sing. I like their band mentality...the way they all wrote songs and they were always doing live shows...still are! I have a lot of respect for Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Mike creative.
I love the ethereal mystical stuff mixed in with the great rock songs and melodies they came up with.

6. What album would you most like to cover in its entirety, why?
"Physical Graffiti" by Led Zeppelin. I would just love to do all that guitar work. That album had a tremendous influence on my whole playing style. It was so raw and blew my mind.
(valis: "Come to me for service, every hundred miles...")


7. What psychedelic album do you wish more people knew about?

When you ask "more people", I mean people not into the genre and that would be: Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. I listened to that song OVER and OVER and OVER again...when you're a kid, I guess you have the time to do that but- the drum solo is actually interesting...I can 'sing' most of the solo from memory.

I do wish more people knew the Hendrix Song " May This Be Love" from Are you Experienced...a classic.

8. What band, active today, most defines "psychedelic" to you?

I think the High Dials really do it better than anybody!

9. Top Ten Psychedelic Songs?
Kristin likes:
Magic Man-Caravan
Eight Miles High-The Byrds
I See The Rain-Marmalade
Timothy Leary-The Moody Blues
She Comes in Colors-Love
Julia Dream -Pink Floyd
Pictures of Matchstick Men-Status Quo
My Green Tambourine-The Lemon Pipers
It's All Too Much-The Beatles


Well, I don't think of music as best, second best, etc- just what I like. So this is just off the top of my head, in no specific order- they're all great and more...I did try to pick stuff a bit less mainstream (except Donovan).

1. Every Christian Lion Hearted Man -Bee Gees
2. Wear Your Love Like Heaven- Donovan
3. Best Way To Travel- Moody Blues
4. Citadel- Stones
5. Relax- The Who
6. I See You- Byrds
7. I Can Hear The Grass Grow- The Move
8. The Third Eye- Dovers
9. Daily Nightly- Monkees
10.The Supernatural- John Mayall's Bluesbreakers

10. Turn the tables, if you'd like, and ask me a question.
Kristin: What instrument would you like to play that you don't and why?
valis: If wishing could make it so I'd choose guitar. I've tried and ended up a few months later knowing a catalog of over 23 songs-all to the tune of "Mary Had A Little Lamb." &^%$ ! Once that was sorted I'd grab a tamboura or,(the penultimate in my mind),the sitar. As to why, well I guess the guitar has always had a hold on me, and unlike drums which I believe is "doable," the guitar just eludes my grasp.(Cue track: "Frustration", by The Mystic Tyde)

Kurt: A question for you- do you think psychedelic music is still a vital genre today, and, if so, who are your favorite current practitioners of it?
valis: One of my favorite questions. I never tire of asking it of bands inside the genre to see how they feel about "the state of the state." My short answer to it is "YES!"; the longer answer is there will always be a human need for what has been termed "the Fourth Drive." As such, there will always be a need for music which enhances, amplifies, or downright does the mind-alteration itself! The desire is hard-wired into us. I'm a strong believer in both the Drive and the music-makers assisting me. So, is the genre "vital"? Absolutely. In every meaning of the word: "existing as a manifestation of life";"full of life and vigor"; "fundamentally concerned with or affecting life or living beings"; and, most germane to our discussion- "recording data relating to lives." I'm honestly and sincerely grateful to bands like the Grip Weeds for doing what you do! As to "favorite practitioners"? How much time do you have? (I could type all day and possibly not exhaust the list of bands working the genre. Some exclusively in the genre, others who are considered peripheral because they or others claim allegiance to another genre in the main. It matters not to me.)
I'll give it a go but please know this is by no means definitive: Damien Youth, Sun Dial, the Telepathic Butterflies, the High Dials, Outrageous Cherry, the Pillbugs, Anton Barbeau, the Squires of the Subterrain, Rockfour, Dog Age, Dora Flood, Deleted Waveform Gatherings, whatever band Joe Kane is in, The GO, Dhera Dun, Strange Flowers, Purple Overdose, the Lilys, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, the December Sound, the Sun Blindness, the Laurels, the Apples In Stereo, Ideal Free Distribution, Alfa 9, the Aliens, Clinic, the Black Angels, Reefus Moons, Jarvis Humby, When, Grails, Dungen & Life On Earth!, the Maharajas, the Hypnomen, Doleful Lions, the Dolly Rocker Movement, Deathray Davies, Lucky Bishops,Bryan Scary, the Photon Band, the Royal Purple, the Loons,the Urges,the Society of Rockets, Happy Band of Japan, Nolan's new band, etc., etc., and on and on. It really is GLOBAL and an omnipotent juggernaut! SALUTE!

Thanks to Kurt, Rick, Kristin, and Michael!!! See 'em here,here, and here!


sr-71 said...

anudder great interview and yer list o' current practictioners brought joyous tears to these eyes (cue track: the Flaming Lips' What a Wonderful World)

Anonymous said...

I've always loved The Grip Weeds and am therefore delighted having read their interview, to find that they are a thoroughly decent bunch.

As for your response to the question asked of you, it's thee who should be saluted mon ami!

French Connection.

Dog Age said...

Thanks for the mention, Valis...;-)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the love valis!

Anonymous said...

Best one yet. Two Top 10's, some fantastic introspection and the Grip Weeds!!!! One of my favorite present day purveyors of psychedelia.

You've outdone yourself, once more.

Continuously applauding,
The Gnome